A New York Winter's Tale, film review: Preposterous sugar-coated fantasy

(12A) Akiva Goldsman, 118 mins Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Eva Marie Saint

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Akiva Goldsman's sugar-coated fantasy is gorgeously shot by Caleb Deschanel and perfectly well-acted by a cast that includes everybody from Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay (as a young newspaper heiress dying of TB) to venerable screen legend Eva Marie Saint (as a newspaper editor) and Will Smith (as Lucifer).

Unfortunately, the film's magical- realist approach comes off as kitsch and preposterous.

Farrell stars as Peter Lake, an Artful Dodger type in 1916 New York City who falls in love with Findlay's character after trying to burgle her father's house. (Her reaction to seeing an armed intruder in her midst is, of course, to offer him a cup of tea.)

Peter is a foundling, a thief with a good heart who, for reasons never made quite clear, has fallen out with his demonic mentor (Russell Crowe). The piano music, shots of twinkling stars and clunky voice-over ("Magic is everywhere around us") are grating in the extreme.

The time-travelling, and frequent interventions by a winged white horse with supernatural powers, are likewise disorienting. Nothing makes much sense here but at least the film looks a treat in its own chocolate-box way.